Youth unemployment inspired Policy Hack win

Youth unemployment inspired Policy Hack win


Erin Watson-Lynn

The day of the ‘education guarantee’ is gone. Subsequently, young Australian’s must learn to innovate.

Globally, 75 million young people are not in work, education or training. The International Labour Organisation warns that this is an unprecedented crisis. Youth across the world face increased uncertainty in a rapidly changing world.

Across G20 member countries, youth unemployment rates vary. Germany is currently sitting comfortably at 7.7 per cent. This figure is likely to increase given Germany’s recent migration in-flows. In South Africa, youth unemployment is over 40 percent. Consequences are equally varied across member countries. But what young people have in common in developed and developing countries is a more precarious outlook than previous generations.

Australia’s youth unemployment crisis is deepening. At double the national average, more than 13 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds are unemployed. And in some parts of the nation including regional Tasmania and Queensland, this figure leaps to over 20 per cent. Against a backdrop of an ageing population, the working population will not rise to meet a sustainable dependency ratio. The current Federal budget is not in the fiscal position to easily manage such a drastic demographic shift.

Explicit in the 2014 G20 Leaders’ Communiqué, entrepreneurship is a popular strategy for increasing youth employment. Entrepreneurship removes the responsibility for job creation from the state to the individual. It is a cheap solution to a crisis that requires minimal government intervention.

But entrepreneurship is a complex agenda to push. It is complex because it is not in itself a policy. Entrepreneurship is an umbrella term for a suite of policies that together creates an enabling environment for self-employment and innovation.

Demand-driven university funding is partly to blame for an unemployment/skills shortage paradox. Australians are graduating with university degrees in unprecedented numbers, yet we are continuously reminded about the country’s skills shortage. The uptake of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is simply not enough. Especially among women, whose participation drops drastically in senior high school.

But in today’s current climate, young Australian’s must be equipped to innovate and respond to the changing social and economic order. And innovation demands expertise in STEM, along with creative thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset.

This youth unemployment crisis and cognizance of a rapidly changing world were the premises to the winning team’s pitch at Wyatt Roy’s Policy Hack. The team conceptualised DICE Kids to grow a Digital, Innovative, Creative and Entrepreneurial generation. 

Starting with a campaign for primary school children to own and operate their own business, Lemonade Day will be soon piloted with a view to launch across the country. Drawing on a similar campaign in the United States, DICE kids aims to reach 180,000 Australian children.

Backed by the Assistant Minister for Innovation, Wyatt Roy, and CSIRO’s Larry Marshall, DICE Kids is preparing to launch at a rapid rate.

The world is changing. Youth unemployment rates are increasing, and so is intergenerational inequality. Without a drastic cultural shift towards an innovative, entrepreneurial culture, Australia’s youth will be left behind.

Sky News: Lucy Turnbull backs entrepreneurial kids

Sky News: Lucy Turnbull backs entrepreneurial kids

Keynote: Zonta Club of Melbourne on Yarra

Keynote: Zonta Club of Melbourne on Yarra